October 10, 2016
Are you in survival mode? Maybe you are struggling to get through each day, anxious for bedtime to arrive or your husband to get home for some reprieve, feeling overwhelmed at life's demands, and perhaps feeling sickly? There can be many reasons why you might be in survival mode, ranging from depression to pregnancy. I've been there — in fact, I'm there now. I'm currently 8 weeks pregnant with our 5th child and feeling quite awful. Exhausted to the bone and nauseous with just about every move. It is tough to be a mom that isn't feeling at her best, whether emotionally or physically. But, cling to the hope that this is just a season and we will get back to ourselves.
This is what I've learned in my many survival mode seasons:
I've written before why self-care is so important, but here the physical self-care is just as important as the emotional. Being pregnant right now, I try my best to listen to my body. If it says to rest, I rest, but it also may be a sign that I've missed my iron and vitamin supplements too many days in a row! If nausea is gaining on me, it usually is a sign I need to eat more protein. Or, it means that I need to rest because it stops if I stop. But truthfully, I am having no qualms about lying in bed as much as possible when I have no energy or feeling bad. Why? Because I know as a Mom I need it. I'm growing a human! That's a huge amount of energy and work. I get by with the bare minimum right now and I'm okay with that. The season for more productivity will come again.
It really helps a momma's mood to get rid of the greasy hair and put on a comfy maxi skirt or leggings instead of ratty PJ's. Knowing that I have short spurts of feeling okay after eating breakfast, I try to shower right after eating. Somedays it may not be until second breakfast (totally a thing!) at 11a.m., but that's okay as long as it gets done!
On the just-awful days even taking a shower counts. Today my one goal was to get our over-flowing dishes washed. Check. Some days simply having one goal to accomplish helps to feel somewhat productive. Having your lazy days can be necessary, but when you are feeling decent — use it to get something done. Counting the little things I accomplish helps me feel less guilty about all the things I didn't get to today. Are the kids happy and fed? Do we have dishes to use and clean clothes to wear? Then we're good for now.
I love some grass-fed beef meatloaf with organic roasted veggies for dinner, but in this kind of season that isn't happening much. I'm all about some frozen conveniences right now. I crave and eat a frozen veggie pizza a few times a week (it's one of the only things that always sounds good to my grossed-out stomach). My kids eat a lot of waffles and mac and cheese right now (at least it is organic?). Frozen foods make it easier on myself in this season — plus freezer foods don't go bad if we eat out a bunch of days in a row! I also invested in a lot of paper plates to cut down on the dishes. Sorry trees. Maybe it isn't the food area for you, but cutting down your expectations of getting out of the house every day for play dates or fun activity with the kids. We are total homebodies right now — and I love it. Maybe it is the level of cleanliness your house is right now compared to normal. Figure out what your priorities are and what you can live with in this season.
I've straight up told my husband, “I feel awful, I need your grace. The dishes will not get done every day. The pile of laundry will be even bigger. I just can't right now.” I've told my kids the same thing, “Momma just doesn't feel good and I'm going to need even more team work right now.” If you can make it clear your expectations of yourself and others, it'll make this season easier. Most of all-- give yourself grace. Allow yourself to rest and let things go until you can get to them.
If you have family and friends that make up your village around you, ask them for help! There is a whole post dedicated to this topic, but the gist of it is don't let pride get in the way of asking for help. People who love you want to help-- let them. Maybe they can pick up your groceries for you from the Harris Teeter pick up line, come fold your clothes, or watch your little ones so you can nap without them tearing apart the house. Anything helps! If you can afford to hire a housecleaner to scrub the toilets you can't seem to get to once a month-- do it. And, asking for professional help from a counselor if you feel like you need it emotionally can be a huge help to cope through this season. There is no shame in asking for help. It is a sign of strength, not weakness.
Truly, know that this is just a season. Circumstances change. Your baby will sleep through the night again. The morning sickness will stop in the next few weeks. You will feel like yourself again. You will blink and this will be just a short time in your past, where most likely it taught you something about yourself as it has for me. Keep pushing on, momma.